Julius-Amédée Laou


Julius-Amédée Laou is an Afro-French playwright and filmmaker, currently based in Montpellier, France. Open Mic Solitaire (1983) was his first film. Le Groupe de recherches et d'essais cinématographiques (GREC) held a contest calling for short film treatments. Laou’s script won and he was awarded a grant to complete the work. Open Mic Solitaire premiered at the Venice Film Festival, where it received the Short Film Prize in 1984. Laou went on to direct two feature films: La Vieille Quimboiseuse et le Majordome (1987), starring Robert Liensol and Jenny Alpha, and the ensemble comedy Zouk, Marriage and Ouélélé! (2004). Laou has authored more than thirty stage plays, including Ne M’Appelez Jamais Nègre! (1982) and Folie Ordinaire d’une Fille de Cham (1984). The latter was adapted into a film by Jean Rouch, and performed at the Ubu Repertory Theater in English under the title Daughter of Ham The Accursed, a production by Françoise Kourilsky performed in 1986. Laou is the founder and director of Le Petit Théâtre de La Cour des Poètes, a Montpellier company sponsored by actor, theatre, and opera director Daniel Mesguich. There Laou has produced and directed numerous plays, including works by emerging writers alongside pieces by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Strindberg, Feydeau, Tennessee Williams, and his own original productions. 



FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM:  Open Mic Solitaire, 18 min, 1983  *Curated by Steve Macfarlane.  

Open Mic Solitaire, 18 min, 1983

In Open Mic Solitaire (Solitaire à Micro Ouvert), a young Black Parisian is murdered by skinheads in Paris. Mad with despair and armed with a pistol, Mathieu (Serge Ubrette), the brother of the deceased, and his girlfriend Karin (Marilyn Canto) hijack a radio station popular with the city’s Franco-Caribbean community. Mathieu takes to the air to deliver a searing monologue on the passivity of the West Indian community in the face of white racism. Soon Mathieu’s treatise has encompassed the whole of Europe’s ransacking of Africa, the failed promises of postcolonialism, and the smokescreen of Black bourgeois respectability. Laou uses the radio address to deliver a stunning portrait of life across the banlieues, but as Mathieu’s audience becomes riveted, he and Karin are growing more and more desperate... – Steve Macfarlane


Revolution Radio: Julius-Amédée Laou’s Solitaire à micro ouvert (1983), an interview between Julius-Amédée Laou and Yasmina Price was released by Screen Slate on the occasion of this premiere screening. 

In the 1959 L’An V de la Révolution Algérienne (A Dying Colonialism), Frantz Fanon writes about radio as a revolutionary technology. The use of various forms of communication and media in the context of liberation struggles is ongoing and transformative. It was displayed with renewed emphasis during Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, where the destruction of news offices and the longer history of suppressed journalistic coverage was overcome only by the self-documentation, across social media, of Palestinians living under occupation. A few years after the beginning of the Algerian War of Independence in 1954, Fanon described something similar: the role of the radio as a form of anti-colonial resistance. He wrote about the cultural imperialism of Radio-Alger, a French station which worked as an anchor for domination, part of the colonial power’s overwhelming monopoly of radio stations and virulent censorship of Algerians. The radio functioning as only a device of oppression shifted in 1956 when the nationalist Algerian political party, the Front de libération nationale (National Liberation Front), created their own radio station as a counter-voice. Capable of travelling more easily than print media, and not bound to the barrier of literacy, the radio enabled social transformation and political possibility, spreading anti-colonial militancy across the airwaves. As Fanon wrote, “In making of the radio a primary means of resisting the increasingly overwhelming psychological and military pressures of the occupant, Algerian society made an autonomous decision to embrace the new technique and thus tune itself in on the new signaling systems brought into being by the Revolution.” Set in Paris two decades later, Fanon’s fellow Martinican Julius-Amédée Laou’s 1983 short film Solitaire à micro ouvert (Open Mic Solitaire) also invites a meditation on the function of the radio for formerly and continuously colonized peoples.

You can read the full interview here. 

Stills, photographs, and artwork courtesy Le Groupe de recherches et d’essais cinématographiques (GREC), and ©Julius-Amédée Laou. Special thanks to Marie-Anne Campos, Léa Morin, Leika Narcisse and Ntone Edjabe (Chimurenga).